Doner to move, finds tenant for old spaceMayor Kurt L...


August 04, 1993|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

Doner to move, finds tenant for old space

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke will join officials of W. B. Doner & Co. today to announce the ad agency's lease of about 40,000 square feet of space in the Inner Harbor Center building at 400 E. Pratt St.

The announcement that Doner will move downtown in December has been expected. But the mayor will also have a bit of a surprise -- announcing a new tenant for the midtown space Doner is leaving.

Total Health Care Inc. will take over the office space at 2305 N. Charles St., Doner Chairman Herbert Fried says. Plans call for Total Health Care to buy the building from Doner's landlord, the estate of a New York-based investor, for an undisclosed price.

Some reports of Doner's pending move had speculated that it would be difficult for the firm to find a subtenant for its midtown space, where its lease does not expire until 1995.

Mr. Fried says Total Health Care is a nonprofit health maintenance organization and inner-city health care corporation. It is based at 1501 Division St. Dr. Claude Hill, CEO of Total Health Care, could not be reached yesterday.

Doner has been looking for new headquarters for several months and considered at least one suburban location, the One West Pennsylvania building at Towson Commons in Towson. But Mr. Fried says the agency, which has about 150 employees in Baltimore, always wanted to remain in the city.

"We think the support of the city is very important," he said. "We've been here since 1955 and we're committed to Baltimore as the land of pleasant living."

Gray Kirk to stay at World Trade Center

Another big ad agency has joined the trail of tenants who have renegotiated leases to capitalize on the real estate recession. Gray Kirk VanSant Advertising Inc. has agreed to stay at the World Trade Center for five years in exchange for some breaks in its lease.

"It was not so much entirely a rent reduction issue," said Gray Kirk's vice president and controller, Barbara Wells.

"We got an allowance to do some refurbishing, we got a rent reduction, and we didn't have to move again."

The agency consolidated the staff of the former Gray Kirk & Evans at the Pratt Street building in 1991 after merging with VanSant Dugdale & Co. Inc., which was already a tenant.

Ms. Wells says improvements within the firm's 11th and 17th floor offices will include paint, carpeting and a reconfiguration of conference rooms. The agency also got a commitment to renovate common areas on the two floors within a year, she adds. And it has the right of first refusal to occupy any floors or half floors that become available in the building.

"We wanted to stay put," Ms. Wells said. "This is a beautiful view. It's a very good address."

Grey Rock project set to be auctioned

The Bank of Baltimore will force one of the Pikesville area's choicest development parcels to the market on Aug. 17, when the Grey Rock townhouse project is auctioned by Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc.

The 47-acre parcel contains 79 "substantially and partially finished" townhouse lots and 113 condominium lots, according to Paul Cooper, vice president of the auction firm.

Sixteen partially built townhouses and condominiums also will be included in the sale, as well as a 4.8-acre piece of raw land fronting on Reisterstown Road.

Grey Rock Inc., a venture of developers John Dorment, Richard Carter and George McCleary, owed the bank $14.5 million when a formal statement of debt was compiled last November, says Joseph N. Schaller, a Baltimore attorney who represents the bank.

"They paid way too much for the land," Mr. Schaller said. "That's what ultimately made the difference because they had to make their prices so high."

Townhouses were priced from $220,000 to $280,000, even after the recession forced the developers to cut prices, he says. Similar projects nearby attracted more empty-nesters, the chief market for upscale town homes locally, he adds.

The bank loan has been in default since last year.

But the auction was delayed by order of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge after the developers filed for protection last fall, Mr. Schaller says.

The developers agreed to waive the automatic stay against creditor actions normally granted to debtors; the bank agreed not to sue unless the developers missed payments that came due during the six-month grace period.

Md. reaps benefit of boost in building

The construction business may not be booming, but Maryland officials say the modest recovery in residential building is boosting tax receipts.

Construction-related categories of the state sales and use tax began to rebound in June, the office of State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein says.

The building and contractors category, which includes use taxes on heavy-duty equipment that builders and developers bring from out of state, rose to $18.8 million in June, an 11.3 percent increase over June 1992.

The hardware, machinery and equipment category brought in $5.1 million in June, up 12.9 percent.

Comptroller's office spokesman Marvin Bond says most of the increases are generated by improvements in the market for new homes.

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